Prospect Research Best Practices for Arts & Culture Fundraisers

Prospect Research Best Practices

As a development professional in the arts and culture sector, you may be looking for prospect research best practices . Today, fundraising is both an art and a science. While data drives decision making, there is also a subtle art involved in framing and timing the ask. With this in mind, here are 3 top best practices in prospect research for arts & culture fundraisers.

Our prospect research best practice recommendations combined with tailored solutions will help you:

  1. Increase prospect engagement through personalization
  2. Convert more ticket buyers into donors or members
  3. Let your best donors guide your prospect research

1. Increase prospect engagement through personalization

Personalization is a mantra that you will hear about often in the near future. This is a key prospect research best practice in the arts and culture sector. Most organizations generally have automated emails thanking someone for a low/mid-level gift. Even though this is common practice, it is not impactful.

Personalization is necessary to increase impact and engagement. Sustained engagement will encourage prospects to support your cause, thereby becoming donors. The messaging needs to be personalized regardless of the medium. For example, a handwritten letter or call from the Executive Director sent to high-level donors can ensure a deeper connection.

Prospect research can help you take this a step further. You can personalize communication not only based on giving history but also on giving capacity and other wealth factors.

WealthEngine can empower your prospect research to reach the right set of major gift donor prospects. We can help you decide if someone should be in an annual fund portfolio or major gift portfolio.

Our wealth intelligence goes beyond net worth to generate a holistic propensity score. Wealth screening can help you set your prospect research in motion and increase donation amounts across all giving brackets by optimizing your ask.

2. Convert arts and culture ticket buyers or visitors into donors

You may be familiar with the common struggle at arts and culture organizations – the difficulty of prioritizing between ticket sales and fundraising. Both are equally important to sustain the organization. However, with lean teams, one of these gets prioritized at the cost of the other. Most organizations that we speak with tend to do a great job filling the seats in a theater or getting a high volume of visitors. Ideally, all those ticket buyers/visitors would be donors or members. Although we recognize that this may not be the case right now.

It may seem like a monumental task to research every ticket buyer or visitor. But these visitors are your greatest prospects! Our next prospect research best practice recommendation can help convert visitors to life-long donors or members. WealthEngine has the capability to screen a ticket buyer at the point of sale and notify you so you can begin nurturing. Furthermore, our API will capture potential major donor prospects in real time.

For instance, if you have a new ticket buyer who conducts the transaction on your website. Our wealth screening solution combined with API can update you on their wealth, demographic and lifestyle information immediately. This allows your team to identify prospects who have not only the capacity to give but also the propensity and intent.

The broad nature of this type of prospect research will give your team the ability to roll out the red carpet. Top prospects can be given the platinum experience before and after any event. This level of personalization would enable the visitor to become better engaged with your organization, creating a strong case to become a donor.

3.Let your best donors guide your prospect research

In our experience, we have found that a lot of organizations have a solid set of low and mid-level donors. A lot of these donors have not only greater gift capacities, but also the interest and motivation to give.  They can easily be leveled up to ensure that there is no money left at the table. As a prospect research best practice, it comes down to perfecting the ask. 

There are two ways to increase the number of high-level donors:

  • Optimize your ask. Don’t forget that prospect research can still be applied to your current donor base! Prospect research allows you to determine the capacity, propensity and intent of donors and prospects. Use the insight from prospecting to ensure that gifts from your current donors match their capacity and propensity.

Our demographic, lifestyle, interests, and affinity data can help gift officers with this best practice. Fundraisers can maintain meaningful dialog with donors and prospects as part of the nurturing process.

  • Find new high-level donors. In-depth prospect research allows you to do a deep dive into your donor base and identify patterns of traits among your high-level donors in order to find more prospects like them. WealthEngine’s analytical and predictive modeling solution can build models based on your top donors.

Our prospecting solution uses insights from these models to find more high-level prospects. This way your best donors can help you find your next best prospects!  In one such instance, our client went from raising $400k at their gala to $7.8M in 3 years. They were able to accomplish this by using WealthEngine to identify other prospects modeled after their top donors.

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Take your prospect research to the next level, contact us to learn more.

We hope these prospect research best practices set you up for year-round arts and culture fundraising success!

Contact us to learn more about how our solutions can help you perfect your prospect research.

You may also like our other articles on prospecting:

Predictive Prospecting: Profiling Your Best Clients to Find New Prospects

Prospect Automation: Why Old Ways of Prospecting Will No Longer Deliver Results

 

 

Capital Campaigns: Fundraising Strategy for Nonprofits

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Strategic campaign fundraising is typically dependent on the structure of your capital campaign gift pyramid and your understanding of your donors. Once you’ve structured your gift pyramid, and you begin approaching existing and potential donors, it’s important to balance your need to procure gifts with your ability to connect with your donors. But, how do you effectively communicate with existing or potential donors? Here are three fundraising strategies for your nonprofit to use during the campaign fundraising process.

 

Sequential Solicitation

 

The primary fundraising strategy for all nonprofits when carrying out a capital campaign is sequential solicitation. Sequential solicitation is a guide, outlining the order in which you should receive gifts from lead donors to meet your campaign fundraising goal.

 

It’s important to secure your largest gifts first, and then work your way down the gift table, receiving smaller gifts towards the end of your capital campaign. Once you’ve achieved 50 to 70% of your goal (which you should complete during the Silent Phase), you can then make your capital campaign public and receive gifts from the community you’re serving.

 

Although campaign stalls can stem from internal campaign issues, such as an overworked staff, the most common reason is the failure to follow sequential solicitation. This is based on the four axioms of campaign fundraising:

 

  1. The ten largest gifts set the standard for the entire campaign
  2. Not following the top-down structure lowers giving sights across the board
  3. Extended solicitation at lower levels will not offset major gaps in upper ranges
  4. Once the first big gift sequence has been seriously violated, the entire program is in jeopardy

 

Approaching Potential Donors

 

Although the sequential solicitation model is in place, you may be wondering: how does it look in practice? Where do I start? That leads to our next fundraising strategy for nonprofits, which is an extension of sequential solicitation. Typically, there are 5 steps to sequential solicitation to help you approach potential donors:

 

  1. Inquire. First, you want to build a prospect list, or leverage Wealth data, to identify the right people who can provide funding to your campaign. Once you’ve identified potential donors, it’s important to conduct external and internal research to assess each group or individuals capacity and propensity to give.
  2. Plan. Once you’ve identified and researched potential donors, it’s time to figure out how you’ll engage with your donors. Besides outlining your intentions and goal, ask yourself: what aspect of the campaign would appeal to them? Is this appealing enough to gain their commitment?
  3. Cultivate. Now that you’ve considered the ways in which your donor might contribute to your goal, it’s time to probe. By bringing your potential donor closer to your cause, you’re able to show them what you’re doing and what you’re intending to do. In doing so, they may end up committed to your work and want to help.
  4. Procure and Secure. The time has come to explicitly request support and secure the contribution from your donor. If your donor has decided contributed, it’s your responsibility to follow up on the details in receiving the contribution. How much is the proposed donation? When the donation will be mad?; How will it be made?
  5. Express Gratitude. You’ve planned, engaged your donor, and have received your gift. Now what? It’s imperative to acknowledge the importance of your donor’s contribution, and their influence on your work at large. By creating a connection with them, and expressing your appreciation not only for their contribution but of them as an individual or organization, your donor may feel inclined to give later on.

 

Appealing to the Motivations of Donors

 

Our final fundraising strategy for nonprofits is identifying, understanding, and acting upon the motivations of donors. Now that you’ve structured a way to collect gifts, and how you can successfully approach potential donors, it’s important to understand the motivations of your donors. Generally, there are four types of motivations:

 

  1. Philanthropy. Donors with philanthropic motivations want to help change the world.  
  2. Connection. Donors motivated by affinity are those who wish to be connected to a cause that has similar values to their own.
  3. Reciprocity. Donors motivated by mutual benefit seek to help organizations that will, in return, provide them with some advantage.
  4. Social Consciousness. Donors with social motivations don’t simply want to contribute to a cause. They want to be part of a community.

 

By identifying their values, you’re able to create targeted messaging or find other ways to effectively communicate with donors. Not only will this help you with your existing or inherited campaign, but depending on the connection you forge with other groups or individuals, they may feel inclined to support and contribute to future projects of yours.

 

Using Big Data and Fundraising Data Analytics for Marketing

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The evolution and growth of big data is transforming the way we market and connect with donors and prospects. But, what does this data mean for commercial non-profit markets, and how can it be leveraged? Let’s explore how big data and fundraising data analytics is influencing our practices, and how we can navigate through this new space effectively.

What is Big Data?

Ask 10 people, and you may get 10 different answers. Big Data can generally be defined as data from multiple sources, combined in ways to make it informative and actionable. By combining data from disparate sets, patterns and insights emerge, and this actually creates more data! As we recognize patterns and trends in the data, these relationships, not previously a part of the data set, become new bits of data ripe for mining and analysis.

As time goes on, bigger data sets are also generated because information is being collected from social media, smart phones, cameras, satellites, remote sensors and other newly emerging technologies. 90% of the world’s data today has been created in the last 2 years alone. Every day, we create an estimate of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. That’s 2.5 with 17 zeroes behind it! Needless to say, there’s an enormous amount of data that marketers or fundraisers can take advantage of.

What does Big Data mean to the marketer or fundraiser?

 

To the fundraiser or marketer, Big Data is the ability to see each consumer or prospect in a 360-degree view, and to personalize messages and interactions with that individual to create the ultimate purchasing or donating experience. We all know relationships are the key to successful marketing. Making sure that our prospects have the best experience they can have with our organization, whether it is a luxury brand selling luxury goods, or a nonprofit seeking funding for their mission, will improve their results.

One of the key buzzwords in marketing these days is “relevance.” Companies and organizations are generating content and practicing content marketing, but the key to making content marketing work is to be sure that the content we put forth is relevant to the audience we are targeting. That’s where  fundraising data analytics and big data comes in. Knowing your customers’ likes and dislikes; buying and donating behaviors; relationships with others in your universe; and most importantly, their wealth, and buying or investing power, allows you the ability to make your messages truly relevant on an almost individual basis.

How can I harness the power of Big Data?

So, given the high volume of data points generated, and the barriers to accessing and processing all these points, how can marketing or fundraising professionals reap the benefits of Big Data? To leverage fundraising data analytics, and big data, the fundraiser and marketer must:

  • Capture
  • Curate
  • Transform
  • Normalize
  • Parse
  • Combine
  • Analyze
  • Report, and
  • Visualize

These actions and activities would require more resources than most small to mid-sized businesses have on hand. So how can the small shop leverage  big data? How can the mid-sized nonprofit use fundraising data analytics to continue measuring the relationship between investment and fundraising?  How can this data be utilized without investing inordinate resources on data collection, curation, and analysis?

Selecting the right Big Data Partner

The answer is finding the right partner. Choosing the right Big Data partner can make your marketing and fundraising messages resonate with your unique audiences. When you’re shopping for a data partner, consider the following questions:

Does this partner understand wealth?

While behavior is an important element, wealth is the true driver for both purchasing and donating.  Does this partner have experience curating data?  For all of us who have tried to merge two spreadsheets of different sizes, or import data into an existing structured CRM, or transform text into numeric data, we can begin to glean the many challenges of working with huge data sets that require many steps to massage into a meaningful whole.  It’s beneficial to work with a Big Data partner who routinely works with data sets of all types and sizes.

Is the potential partner willing to work with you to select the data you need to append, and to customize a data solution for your needs?

Too much data can be as bad as not enough data.  Make sure you get the right fit by selecting a partner who can assist by understanding your needs and providing a customized solution. It’s equally important that your partner is leveraging resources that allow you create a wealth search and help you understand a potential or existing donor’s capacity to spend, invest, or give.

Does the partner add value?

Data is the foundation for knowledge and insight, but you need a partner with a robust analytics understanding who can add value to your data with ratings and scores, predictive modeling, clustering analysis and other techniques.  Analysis is where the true value of data is derived.

Will the partner work with your data?

Much of your most valuable data resides in your own CRM or DMS.  By combining the data you have with additional Big Data sets, you can extract the most value. Having a partner who can work with both, and who understands your business needs and challenges will reap the best results.

Does the partner have all the data you need?

Shopping piecemeal for data is time consuming and difficult.  So finding one partner who has wealth, demographic, lifestyle, behavioral, and biographic data at the individual and household levels. This can parse, normalize, and combine all your data points, and saving you hours of aggravation.

 

Organizations of any size and any level of data competency can harness the insights of fundraising data analytics with the right partner. If you’d like to learn more about the power of  fundraising data analytics, contact us to speak with one of our experienced consultants.

5 Reasons To Get Your Nonprofit Prepared For #GivingTuesday

If you are a fundraiser, it’s definitely no surprise to you that the time for year-end fundraising is right around the corner. Even if you are close to hitting annual targets, #GivingTuesday is a huge opportunity to boost your efforts and help you exceed your goals.

With #GivingTuesday fast approaching, you can enhance your year-end fundraising by reminding your donors and prospects to participate? But, that begs the question: is #GivingTuesday appropriate for every nonprofit?

For  most nonprofits, if your year-end fundraising could use a boost, then a #GivingTuesday campaign can provide your nonprofit with the lift it needs. So, what are the benefits of participating in #GivingTuesday? There are five primary advantages of involving your nonprofit in #GivingTuesday:

1. Global Presence and Relevance

#GivingTuesday has gone beyond what is referred to as #activism. Everyone from Bill Gates to Reese Witherspoon engages in #GivingTuesday and encourage their followers to give on this day.

The movement has also found a global following through social media. This provides nonprofits with the potential to gain exposure and donors worldwide.

2. Seasonality and Generosity

Overtime, the holiday season has become more and more commercialized. While consumers spend significantly during this time of year, there is also a growing sentiment of generosity among many. #GivingTuesday is strategically placed after Thanksgiving when families have come together, felt grateful for what they have, and realized that not everyone is afforded the same lifestyle and experiences.

At a time like this, when sentiments are high, even small prompts or reminders to make a difference can create a significant impact.

3. Growing Public Conscience and Purpose

It’s true that the holidays are a time of giving and generosity. However, data has also shown that high net-worth individuals, especially millennials and younger generations, are driven by meaning and purpose. They believe in associating with brands that are responsible, and organizations that care about communities and causes.

With this outlook, HNWIs are bound to be aware of #GivingTuesday and its impact. Your nonprofit could leverage their sentiments by providing them with a convenient platform to get involved. Think of it this way, if you are not involved in #GivingTuesday, you may be losing out on individuals who are not only supporters of your cause but who may be likely to donate.

4. Significant and Growing Impact

Besides the sentimental significance of #GivingTuesday, there is no ignoring the financial significance. Last year on #GivingTuesday, nonprofits raised nearly $274 Million across the country. That was a 50% increase compared to 2016.

This year, the day has even greater potential to make a difference to organizations like your nonprofit and the communities and causes you represent.

5. Gateway for New Donors

One doesn’t have to be the ‘philanthropic’ type to participate in #GivingTuesday. The social media-powered movement has been getting the attention of people across the world whether they are usually involved with giving to causes or not.

A #GivingTuesday campaign is a great way for your nonprofit to reach not only new donors but also different types of donors who you wouldn’t normally reach through capital campaigns or  major gift programs. #GivingTuesday is about making small contributions as much as it is about making major gifts. You  have the ability to reach a wider range of prospects who can become recurring donors or long-term supporters of your organization through continued engagement.

We hope you find that these reasons resonate with your organization. There is a compelling case for creating a #GivingTuesday campaign whether it is a month-long omnichannel undertaking or a simple email to remind donors and prospects about this day.

Now that you know whys behind this event, join us for our Webinar on Thursday, November 15 from 1-2 PM ET to learn how you can plan #GivingTuesday promotions. 

Recurring Donors: Why you need them and how to get them

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Salesforce and NextAfter hosted a webinar about the benefits of Recurring Donors. These donors can be a source of great value to nonprofits over time.

Recurring Donors vs. One-Time Donors

The 2018 Benchmark Report presented by NextAfter revealed interesting differences between the two groups. Recurring Donors are worth 5.4% more than One-Time Donors over their lifetime. In fact, in a single year, Recurring Donors give 42% more than One-Time donors. The longer the measurement period, the greater the gap in donations between them.

Your Recurring Donors are most likely those that donate monthly. Some organizations call them members as regular contributions are like a subscription.

Recurring Donors are more likely to stay engaged with you beyond their first year. This means you can expect to build a long-term relationship with them.

Why you should invest in acquiring and converting Recurring Donors

LTV is the most important metric in fundraising. Yet, it can be overshadowed by the value of a single donation.

According to NextAfter, LTV = amount given x time they keep giving

Development teams dedicate fewer resources to Recurring Donors. This is in spite of the fact that they generate a higher LTV.  The long-term relationship with a Recurring Donor makes planning and forecasting more predictable. Thus, your investment towards Recurring Donors should match the value generated by them.

More Recurring Donors in your database means greater savings. The longevity of their engagement means that you don’t have to keep spending on acquiring new donors. One-Time Donors usually cost more to convert as you have to do it many times over.

Additionally, studies have shown that nonprofits benefit the most from donations in installments. These are more valuable than upfront payments or waiting to accumulate larger sums.

From the donor’s point of view, it can be beneficial in two ways. Firstly, frequent giving lengthens the satisfaction received from the act. Research has shown that higher value contributions don’t always make for greater satisfaction. Secondly, there has been an overtaking of subscription models such as Netflix, Zipcar, etc.  Consumers are used to regular payments going out in smaller installments that seem less burdensome.

This means you can leverage this mutually beneficial arrangement. You can receive predictable payments in installments and provide greater satisfaction in exchange.

What to do next

WealthEngine solutions help you find Recurring Donors from your database. We understand a person’s capacity to give, as well as propensity and intent. Our Wealth Intelligence comes from wealth data combined with demographics, lifestyle attributes, and affinities. This means you can see what causes your prospects support and how they support them.

WE Analyze can, in fact, help you examine your current Recurring Donors to identify patterns of traits. You can then create a custom model from these patterns. Further, the model helps you find more members using our Look-Alike tool.  This means your existing Recurring Donors can help you find new ones.

How to acquire or convert prospects into Recurring Donors

A Recurring Donor is likely to stay with you if they remain engaged with your organization. The Benchmark Report has found that 38% of nonprofits have the same strategy for Recurring Donors and One-Time Donors. It pays to have a dedicated strategy and dedicated resources for Recurring Donors. Moreover, it is beneficial to have a separate value proposition for Recurring Donors.

You should pair a strong value proposition with a strong CTA (call-to-action). For instance, research has shown that “donate” is the most effective button to have on your website.  Recurring Donors should be able to understand how their contributions make a greater impact on your cause.

NextAfter says that there are other, universal best practices to consider:

  • Optimize your donation form so that it is short
  • Accept several forms of payment
  • Use multiple channels to communicate your message
  • Ask all new donors to become members. The momentum can push them to continue giving
  • Remind existing donors to sign up for a membership. This works even though it may seem counterintuitive

Customize Communication for Recurring Donors

Messaging should be more focused on cultivation rather than solicitation.

WealthEngine solutions can help you with this. We can help you keep existing donors engaged and convert them in real-time through our API. WealthEngine’s API allows you to feature on the spot messaging when a current donor engages with your channel. What’s more, the API integrates with Salesforce. This means you can cultivate Recurring Donors without added investments in technical infrastructure.

Learn More

If your organization currently uses Salesforce, catch a recap of our Webinar to learn how our connector app can benefit you.

Further Reading

WealthEngine Aware

How to Calculate Donor Lifetime Value to Predict Future Donations

Leverage Storytelling to Boost Year-End Fundraising

Are you a fundraiser for a cause or advocacy group that supports human rights, animal rights, or sustainability? Then you know that year-end giving can be crucial to your fundraising success.

Over a quarter of nonprofits studied by NonProfit Hub reported that 26-50% of their fundraising success can be attributed to year-end giving. A majority of nonprofits begin planning in October to execute year-end asks and marketing in November. Now is the time to get a head start on year-end activities and kick your 2019 plans into high-gear starting right now!

Getting started can definitely be a challenge. Several organizations struggle with understanding the right way to communicate their year-end ask. Once you have identified your donor or prospect list with the highest potential, it is important to communicate with them effectively.

Most nonprofits send two touches at the most during this season in order to avoid overwhelming their prospects. While this frequency may be enough to get their attention, you have to ensure that your message does not get lost in the clutter.

Employing story telling tactics can be a more effective way to get your message across and cut through the clutter.

Let us examine why storytelling can be better for year-end communication

  1. Emotional Appeal– It all comes down to logic vs. emotion. An emotional appeal is more likely to be memorable. Prospects are surrounded by logic and it is easy for them to rationalize their way out of making a year-end contribution. Evoking an emotion makes them feel more compelled to make a difference to the community or animals being affected.
  2. Empathy– A story has the power to humanize your cause. Stories about animal rescue, preservation, or community upliftment have the ability to generate empathy in your prospects. They can find themselves relating to your story, making your year-end ask much stronger.
  3. Narrative Form– A story has dips and curves, a before and an after making it gripping for its readers or listeners. If you have a strong opening, you are more likely to keep your prospect engaged during your communication.
  4. Imagery– Words can create strong mental images, better yet they can be supported by actual images of the cause. Imagery makes for a more visual appeal and visuals make messages more memorable, therefore creating a lasting impact.

Now that we understand the ‘whys’ of storytelling for fundraising, we need to understand the ways in which we can ensure that your communication makes the lasting impact that can resonate with a donor even after he or she has engaged with your message.

Let’s examine how to optimize storytelling to boost your year-end fundraising

People tend to be more emotional around the holidays. This means that they are also more likely to feel generous during this season. The following ways will help ensure that your communication appeals to their spirit of generosity in the right manner.

  1. Communities- First and foremost, focus on the communities impacted. If your sustainability efforts have impacted the health of a particular community, if your organization has provided a platform or voice for a marginalized group of people, or if your impact has changed the lives of animals for the better; tell the story from their perspective.
  2. Authenticity- Use real images in your stories, be authentic. Use a voice that fits with your organization and its vision. Stock images or facts and figures have a way of taking away from the impact of your story.
  3. Testimonials- Take narratives from impacted communities to the next level by including actual testimonials from community members. Tell their stories in a way that showcases their lives before and after the impact of donations. Testimonials can add to the authenticity of your message. Using video can be especially powerful here as it can increase the level of engagement with the storyteller.
  4. Work in Progress- Even if you have projects that are still in process, share this with your prospects. Show them how far you have come, how much of a difference you have made. Include them in your plans, this is a great way to make an appeal. This provides a platform for you to show your prospects how their donations can help you get closer to your goal. Work in progress can create a sense of urgency in your prospects, especially when you tie your goals to end-of-year deadlines.
  5. Find a Hero- Telling the story from the perspective of impacted communities can be very strong. However, another technique for year-end asks is making your prospect the hero of the story. This can be used to show past donors the impact of their contributions and the potential difference that a future donation could make. Showcasing them as a central figure can prove to be inspirational. Donors gain great satisfaction from acknowledgment, this can be heightened during the holiday season, making them a hero and acknowledging their impact can help crystallize your message in an extremely effective way.

We hope these reasons for leveraging storytelling and our best practice tips help boost your Year-End Fundraising.

To learn more about how we can help you find your top prospects and the stories that will deliver the most impact on them, contact us today!

Healthcare Fundraising: Boost Grateful Patient Programs with the P2G Score

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Healthcare fundraising success often relies upon running efficient Grateful Patient Programs. Our Director of Enterprise Sales, Dawn Galasso, explains the key role of the P2G score in healthcare fundraising. Dawn often counsels WealthEngine clients and prospects in this sector on boosting their Grateful Patient Programs.

We interviewed Dawn to understand how Wealth Intelligence can empower healthcare fundraising. She recounted her experience with a large Midwestern Health System. This organization was already using wealth screening as a fundraising solution. However, the service failed to identify a significant number of patients in their system as capable of giving major gifts.

Continue reading “Healthcare Fundraising: Boost Grateful Patient Programs with the P2G Score”

After Giving Tuesday Has Come and Gone

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Giving Tuesday (or your Local Giving Day) has come and gone. While your “heavy lifting” is done and you’ve raised some money, what can you do to leverage these efforts? 

WealthEngine can help. WE have put together a great resource to help you in the wake of Giving Tuesday.

Download our free tip sheet, After Giving Tuesday Checklist, and get started on maximizing your year end fundraising efforts. 

Giving Tuesday Tips: Thinking outside the box

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Giving Tuesday. Colorado Gives Day. One Island Giving Day.  Arizona Gives Day. New York Gives Day. Illinois Day of Giving. Giving to the Max Day. All – and there are many more —  are founded with a single goal of bringing awareness to the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the local community.

The Giving Tuesday idea is simple, piggybacking on the post-Thanksgiving sales cycle of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday”. The other state-wide giving days simply pick a date – ranging from sometime in October to early December – and are generally championed by a community foundation which provides an online portal and often, an incentive fund.

So what can you do to make the most of this? After all, many nonprofits rely on year-end giving for a large portion of their philanthropic budget. 

Some simple ideas:

  1.  Plan ahead. It’s just about impossible to mount a successful giving day effort without beginning to plan as early as spring or early summer. 
  2. Pick a financial goal. Do you want to raise $10,000 or $50,000? More?? Make sure the goal is feasible and not pulled out of thin air.
  3. Create a communications plan using all possible channels: your newsletter, social media, your website, your blog and email blasts.
  4. Do you have an online giving portal on your website? It’s essential.
  5. Segment your donors and prospects by their P2G score (lower is better) and giving history.
  6. Make it personal. Engage your board and other key volunteers to send the message to their friends and colleagues.
  7. Plan a live event and on the day, tweet out your results as they come in. Make sure it’s fun and festive. If you can get one of your corporate donors to help underwrite it or if you can secure donations of food and drinks, so much the better.
  8. Be thankful. Show your gratitude using all your communication channels and share your results. Consider a simple You Tube-type video communicating the thanks of your team and those you serve.
  9. Steward your donors, new and old. Be sure to get all gift acknowledgement forms out within 48 hours. Set aside an entire day to do so and make it a team effort.

For more tips, as well as some planning guides, visit your sponsoring community foundation’s website, https://www.givingtuesday.org/organizations#block–the-complete-toolkit , www.razoo.com/givingdays and http://givingdayplaybook.org/planning — a service of the Knight Foundation

Turn Your Event Participants into Donors

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As summer draws to an end and we prepare for fall, we are about to enter the season of “-Thons”.  Hosting a fundraising walk-a-thon, bike-a-thon, dance-a-thon, swim-a-thon, read-a-thon or other fundraising –thon can be a great way to build support for your cause, identify new prospects, build a relationship with new donors, and build your base of support. Whether you work for a charity, hospital, university, theater or advocacy organization, now is the time for development offices to create a plan for how to turn event participants into donors. Turning event participants into donors can be easily done, but requires careful communication and a moves management strategy.

Here are five steps to consider when planning your event to find new event participants, identify fresh prospects, and maximize your relationship with existing event participants:

1. Promote your event via social media to find new participants.

Don’t put on the same event for the same participants who are donating year after year! Find new constituents to invite using social media. By casting a wide net you will find prospects who are interested in your cause or activity and, with the proper follow through, they can be turned into donors.

Publicize your event on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Be sure to include a call to action with every post, either a way to request more information or to register directly on your website.

Have your loyal supporters and advocates publicize your event for you to ensure it is being viewed by as many eyes as possible. By asking existing event supporters and past participants to share the event via their own social networks, they are giving your event a credible voice by publicly showing their support and also finding you new participants (and new potential donors!).

2.) Build out your invitation list and find new high potential prospects to participate.

As you build out your event invitation list, consider ways to expand your universe to include more high potential prospects. Be sure to leverage board relationships, and consider tools that will inform you of who in your board’s circle of friends might participate, as you work to strategically develop this list.  Consider new avenues to pursue as you market the event broadly, such as local interest groups and clubs.

Questions to ask yourself might include:

  • How do I find new constituents with high giving potential that might be interested in my event?
  • Which are the most capable prospects to invite to our event?
  • Who do our board and other VIPs know that may respond to a personal invitation to our event and who should ask for their participation?

3.) Screen event participants before and after your event.

It is important to review your event participant list both before and after your event. This ensures that you know the financial capacity of participants and that no wealthy prospects slip through the cracks.

As you get to know your list inside and out and identify the participants with the highest giving potential, develop a plan for your high potential prospects. Consider inviting them to pre- or post- event VIP activities, such as breakfasts or post-event celebrations. If the idea of planning an event around your event is too much for you, consider sending invitations for meetings or “grabbing coffee” a week or two after the event itself. Personal follow through with each high–potential prospect is a must to create ongoing engagement and to understand the individuals’ motivations and interests.

4.) Use metrics as you wrap up your event for the year.

Applying analytics to your event list for both segmentation and tracking is crucial as you wrap up the event and before you move on to your next big challenge – the ask. Metrics to consider include:

  • Event Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Cost to Raise a Dollar (CRD)
  • Cost per person for event
  • # of gifts received from event
  • % of giving from event
  • Dollars contributed from event
  • Average event gift size
  • Event cost

Be sure to segment your event list to determine who needs immediate follow up, based on his/her wealth profile. Follow steps in our Growing Individual Gifts workbook for best practices on how to set up a meeting to build a relationship with potential donors. Strike while the iron is hot to stay in touch and build a relationship.

5.) Once you know enough, make the ask!

Before asking your prospect for a substantial gift, there are a few questions you want to be sure are already answered:

  • What is this donor’s interest or passion and where does it align with our mission?
  • What is the project they will be most interested in funding?
  • What is the correct ask amount for this donor? This should be in harmony with the project or need you are seeking funding for, as well as the donor’s capacity to give.
  • Who should be involved in the solicitation? The president or CEO? A board member? A friend or colleague?
  • Is this the right time to ask? Should we wait until after the recession is over? After their pledge to the [insert charity] building fund is over? After their children are out of college?
  • Who else may be involved in the decision to give? A spouse? Other family members? Financial or tax advisors?
  • How does s/he want to be recognized for a gift? Knowing their stewardship desires before asking for the gift ensures you handle any gift negotiations appropriately, and also that you accomplish post-giving appreciation and recognition in the most meaningful way for the donor(s).

When you know the answers to these questions in advance, you will be making a solicitation that is hard to say no to.

For more information on growing your development program, download Growing Individual Gifts: An Analytical Approach to Data-Driven Success